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Best practices for Drupal beginners

New at Drupal and having trouble designing a good-looking page? Look no further! Here are some best practices for creating content at aalto.fi.

When creating a page at aalto.fi, there are a few simple tricks which make the content more available and more intriguing to users. These practices can be used for articles, news, events and most other content. This service page is in itself an examplary page of these practices.

First, every page has a Lead text which introduces your page to the reader and makes it easier to find in online searches. At the top you also have a separate field for the summary of your page. A good trick is to first write the lead text, which briefly describes the contents of your page (2-3 sentences/short paragraph), and then shorten that for a 1-2 sentence summary. Lead text will appear right after the title of your page whereas the summary will appear everywhere your page is being lifted up. Make sure not to repeat the title in your summary or lead text.

You should also pick a Main image for your page, even if you choose to not display it there, like we've done with this page. Hiding the main image works well e.g. for service pages with instructions on something with lots of screenshots. It will still be shown in liftups and previews to draw readers to your page. You can see examples of this under the heading "More Drupal instructions" further down this page.

Then, you can use several components to build your text. The most basic one is the Text paragraph, such as this text that you are reading right now.

Drupal image for Comms use only. Abstract image, yellow.

Another option is the text with image component, which shows an image to the left or right of your text, just like this one. With longer texts, it’s a good idea to alternate between the text paragraph and the text with image component to make the page more interesting and to keep the reader engaged. In general, you should always vary the components used on your page to maintain the reader's interest.

If you want to lift up news, events or articles, the general rule of thumb is to put those at the end of the page. That way, the reader is introduced to further readings once they are done with your text.

You can of course lift up articles in any relevant places. Let's say you're mentioning a topic very briefly, but your page will not go into details on that issue. After this mention, you can lift up a page that does dig deeper by using e.g. a Single liftup component, such as we've done here. This way the reader can jump right into that topic, if that is what they are ultimately interested in.

This also helps to break up the monotony of the text, and it will grab the reader's attention again.

Single liftup

That is all you need to know to create your first good Drupal page. Remember, less is more, so you don’t have to start adding other types of components unless you really have a need for them and know how to use them.

Once you have created some basic pages based on these best practices, and you feel more confident with your Drupal skills, you can start playing around with these concepts more and do your own take on them. There really isn't one right or wrong here as long as you trust your own experience.

Basic ingredients of building a Drupal page:

  • Use a main image
  • Vary the components
  • Break up the monotony of long text by adding other components

One final tip is to try to look at your page from an outsider's perspective. Can you get the information you want by just scanning the page quickly?

More Drupal instructions

There is plenty of in-depth instructional content for how to use text, images, video, liftups, etc. 

Väre building in the campus. Inside shot of natural light filled dark wood staircase criss-crossing in white surroundings. Light through skylights. Photo by Aalto University / Tuomas Uusheimo

Adding images, ALT text, changing cropping and focal points

Uploading images and adding alternative (ALT) text for accessibility. Changing focal point will effect the way the image is cropped.

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Student at laptop. Photo by Aalto University / Aino Huovio

Aalto.fi page types

Want to learn more about a specific page type at aalto.fi? This blog post summarizes the most common page types and links to further instructions.

Drupal: Aalto.fi website
What are the liftups graphic

Liftups visualise content

Here, you'll find a short description of and a link to the different liftup components available to you at aalto.fi. With them, you can visualise and highlight the versatile content on the site.

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This service is provided by:

Communications Services

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